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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Spring 2019

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COUNSELLING LIFE IN BALANCE If you can enjoy life and connect with others, you’re more likely to cope with challenges and stressful events. Look after yourself as part of your daily routine. Rather than using self-discipline, value yourself as a gift for yourself. Surprisingly, it can be hard to treat yourself well. Start small, do something different today. Small steps can make a difference to your health. Look at the different areas in your life – how well balanced are they? Here are some tips to assist you in finding balance in your life. PHYSICAL Look after and move your body. Pace yourself through the day, taking regular breaks. Eat fresh healthy food. Keep good sleep habits; go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Wind down before bed by taking 30–45 minutes with dim lights and no screen. Do something relaxing or practice deep, slow breathing. Cut out caffeine and alcohol before bed. Consider having regular massages. PSYCHOLOGICAL Practice self-kindness and selfcompassion. Consider how you talk to yourself. Let go of words such as should, have to, always, never, must, can’t, impossible. Build your flexibility. Consider journal writing and/or talking to someone you feel comfortable with about the ups and downs of your emotions. You can talk to a counsellor if you feel hopeless, overwhelmed, anxious, stuck, or disconnected from others. PHYSICAL RELATIONSHIPS Consider how to engage with others socially. Find someone supportive and trustworthy and be that for others too. Connect deeply with people, talk to them openly and truthfully about how you are going. Reach out to an old friend, forgive someone, add appreciation, thankfulness, gratefulness, or an act of kindness. Connect with a social group or peer support group. Say no when you need to. SPIRITUAL Connect to your spirituality such as through meditation, silent walks in nature or sit still in an empty church. Be reflective; consider prayer, yoga, music or mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being where you are without judgement. Notice your thoughts, let them come and go. Pause and practice holding the richness of the moment. WORK/ STUDY PSYCHOLOGICAL WORK/STUDY Have strong boundaries. Talk about your situation with people you feel safe with such as a trusted manager, supervisor or mentor on how to modify work demands or achieve a better work/study life balance. Many workplaces have employee assistance programs for confidential counselling. Everyone’s experience of having a neurological condition (never illness) is different. Self-care and keeping routines will help keep you as well as possible. MSWA has a range of professionals to help you balance your life, please reach out if we can support you. References RELATIONSHIP/ SOCIAL SPIRITUAL Wei, M. (2016). Psychology Today Wilson, K. (2016). SANDY SUVERIJN MSWA COUNSELLOR 24

COUNSELLING THE POWER OF MUSIC “When words fail, sounds can often speak.” So wrote Hans Christian Andersen in his fairy tale What the Moon Saw. Music has always been with us. It has a way of opening our hearts and helping us feel more connected to others, to ourselves, and to the world around us. As a result, it is a direct line to our emotions and state of being. Music is the soundtrack to our lives; to our love affairs, our friendships and our adventures. It can take us back to a formative time, to a younger version of ourselves and remind us of who we were, who we are and who we still want to be. Music captures a moment in time, and in an instant we are transported – mind, body and soul – to that day on the beach, wedding day, special birthday or that afternoon cruising in the car, new licence in hand, breeze in our hair and the radio blaring. Music is therapy, and we use it to celebrate life’s high points as well as heal our lows – like the pain of a broken heart, loss, grief or confusion. Like a good friend, music can accompany us through almost any crisis. Based on the research to date, there is certainly evidence that we have much more than just an emotional connection with music. Listening to or playing music can stimulate regions of the brain associated with memory and cognition, encourage the release of certain chemicals that reduce pain and anxiety, and be an effective stress reliever. Likewise listening to calming music has been found to improve sleep quality, lower blood pressure and slower your heart rate. Alternatively, the rhythm of music stimulates the impulse to move. We may just tap our hands and feet or get up and dance, all of which can improve movement and coordination. These motor activities when done repetitively can be highly therapeutic and fun all at the same time. The neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks once said that “music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears. It is a remedy, a tonic for the ear”. Therefore, the next time you put on your favourite track, have a little dance around, safe in the knowledge that you are likely to be reaping many health benefits. KAREN BROWN MSWA COUNSELLOR At MSWA, we truly believe in the power of music to enrich the lives of those living with a neurological condition. With that in mind, we are delighted to partner with WASO for the 2019 season. The unique partnership will not only showcase the benefits of music as medicine for the mind, but also give a whole new audience access to the wonders of classical music. As part of our partnership with WASO, MSWA members have access to discounts on a range of WASO performances. To find out more, please email 25